Tuesday, October 6, 2009

The Perfect Garden Center

A few weeks ago on one of my husbands days off we took a trip to the park. It was a beautiful Saturday. We decided to grab lunch and have a picnic at the park. Subway was the healthiest and most eco-friendly packaging fast food place we could think of. We hadn't gone grocery shopping, were out of food at home and didn't want to spend the beautiful day, not even an hour, shopping at the grocery store. Subways was our best option for the time.

On the way to the park we noticed a lot of parked cars and some tents ahead. My husband and I debated whether we should stay. We wanted family time to be fun, not over crowded, but when we drove up to the orange cones and the man to ask him what was going on and then to tell him we were going to turn around he told us it was a free event with arts and crafts and plant sales. We also noticed the little train (a kid train made of about 6 cut out 55 gallon plastic barrels attached to a tractor) and when we looked ahead at the play part of the park it really wasn't all that crowded. It was only there upfront. So we parked. We grabbed our food and the kids and walked over to a picnic table.

Did I mention what a beautiful day it was? We ate our lunch. Then my daughters, while already standing up and headed towards the play area, asked us if they could go play. Of course we let them go. My husband, the baby and I watched the girls play. After about an hour my husband and I took interest in the train. So we went to ask how much it cost to ride. We only had about $3 on us. When they told us it was free we were thrilled. Every dollar counts right now.

My daughters got in the train, but I was concerned about the heat so as soon as the train came back I made them drink some water. Then my husband and I began to talk about the 55 gallon drums the kid train was made of. We loved the idea but also remembered the rain barrels we still needed to find so my husband walked over to the driver of the train and asked him where he found the barrels. The man told him he found them about 15 years ago. He gave my husband a few suggestions of where we could find them now but the places were always so far away.

After the train we walked to the tents in the picnic area across the park street playground. The first tent was one of handmade soaps. I know we didn't have any money on us so I just asked the lady for her business card hoping she was local so I can order from her later. She wasn't as local as I hoped, but still in South Texas.

Next we stopped by the arts and craft tent. This is were it was all worth it. The first craft my girls made was pantyhose filled with dirt and seeds. Four parts were tied off with rubber bands. Two parts became ears, one a nose and one the neck. Then eyes and lips were glued on. The eyes and mouth later fell off. The glue used wasn't the best, but in a little more than a week the seeds of sprouted and the plant faces have a full head of grassy hair. They are very cute.

Soon after they made the plant faces/heads they moved on to coloring pictures of frogs and cutting them into 3D figures. Then they had someone help them make hats out of newspaper, paper maches, and some tape. It was a neat idea I plan to copy and do with my girls again.

After the hats they colored butterfly rings and other animal nature crafts. It was all very neat and curious why it was free I asked some of the sweet ladies there who looked like they were really tired of the heat. They told us some local business were sponsoring the event and they have had the even for the past few years except last year because of the Hurricane.

It's nice when companies do this. It really helps families like mine enjoy family outing without having to spend an arm in a leg in the process. My girls still not done with the arts and craft my my husband and I chatted and then nosily tuned into one of the nice ladies conversation with someone else about organic gardening. The someone else was asking about bugs in her garden. The nice lady gave her some organic advice and when the conversation was over my husband and I slowly worked our way to her to ask her some questions too. I'm not sure how long we were there but we were overloaded with a wonderful amount of information.

We wrote down a list of plants she suggested are best to plant for this season for our area. She refereed us to website to look at. She..... gave us so much information. She also referred us to a garden centers that sells vegetable seedlings because we told her none of the nurseries here have vegetable seedlings. We left her thanking her over and over. My girls were delighted to have these new newspaper hats decorated with feathers and other girly things and my husband and I were excited to know that we were excited about gardening again.

As the tents began to close down we stopped by the photo art tent. What amazing work this woman had. My rude husband though attacked her with question about the types of products she used. I understood that his goal was to figure out how we could do this to start our own business. He didn't mean to be rude, he just needs to learn tact. I kindly asked for her business card and was really interested in buying a photograph she took of a frog. It was beautiful. Of course I didn't have the money so we thanked her for her time and we moved on to the carnivore plants.

These plants our amazing! But all I kept thinking was that the plants are not native to our region. What will that do to the environment. Still to look at one and have someone explain to us how the plants catch there food was very interesting, but again we did not buy and we moved on to the local honey.

I wanted some so much. It looked delicious, but I reminded myself I had half a jar left at home and that even if I didn't I didn't have the money. Luckily these events only take cash or I would have been using my debit card and I'm not one to use my debit card easily. When we passed the honey and began the walk to our car on the other side of the park. I looked back at all the beautiful plants and the art and realized that I love these type of events. Next time maybe I will bring enough to buy one thing for all of us.

Since then we have visited the garden center we were referred too. The first time we visited we didn't have much time. We got lost and by the time we found it we realized it was almost time to head back home to be there for the girls when they got off the bus. We also stopped by two resale shops in search for an umbrella stroller I need for my 9 month old and at Office Depot to turn in my empty cartridges for recycling and cash back into my account. I love recycling for money. I would do it for free but cash back is a nice touch and I'm not going to turn down the offer if they offer it.

At the garden center my husband who likes to go overboard and who was in a hurry began to grab vegetable seedling and seed packets left and right. Okay he wasn't that crazy but he did grab a lot, more than our budget allowed, but I managed to talk him into giving some of them up and going back the week after to get more if we needed. That day we bought broccoli and leak seedlings and lettuce seeds.

Yesterday, with more time available but not much time we stopped by the garden again. I announced a $10 budget and I made sure we stayed close to it, so when he tried to grab tomato seedlings and I knew they weren't going to fruit at least $2 worth which is about 50 cents more than they were going to cost I convinced him to put them back. I told him we could come back next year, early in the spring and take a look at tomatoes. He put them back. We did however buy, cauliflower (1), cabbage (2), cilantro (2) and Spearmint (1). Everything we bought on both days except the mint was for the front yard. The Spearmint, actually labeled English Mint (we were told by the nice man helping us that they were the same thing) is for the back yard garden for ground cover. We wanted to use soybeans or favabeans but don't know of any place locally that would sell this. We were told we could use mint as ground cover too. See we want a duel purpose ground cover. We want it to improve the soil but also be something we can use or eat before we till it up and into the ground.

Now that I have mint and some of the other herbs (which look great by the way) I can begin making some homemade body beauty products. At least I hope I can.

As we purchased the items above that second day the man assisting us helped us a lot. He gave us a lot of suggestions, told us we could bring a soil sample to the store to be tested for free and gave us a great tip of where we could find a large plastic barrel. He said a car wash. He showed us some he had turned into rain barrels and potters at the back of the store. What a great idea and what a great garden center. Thank you Kingwood Garden Center.

No comments:

Post a Comment